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The mother of a Birmingham soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq has welcomed a landmark legal ruling guaranteeing the human rights of soldiers in a war zone. Families of troops who die in combat can now sue the government if they aren’t adequately protected.

The case was brought by the family of Private Jason Smith who died of heatstroke in Iraq.

A judge in the High Court yesterday backed their view that the European Convention on Human Rights – which guarantees a “right to life” – should apply even in the midst of a conflict.

Lawyers for the Ministry of Defence had argued that the Convention only applied to regular military bases.

Now the precedent has been set, many other cases could follow amid allegations that soldier have been exposed to unnecessary risks throughout the Iraq War.

Carol Jones, whose son Sergeant John Jones from Castle Bromwich was blown up by a roadside bomb in Basra, has long argued that her son would have lived if his Land Rover “snatch” vehicle had been carrying ECM’s – Electronic Counter Measures designed to “sniff out” explosives (see link here)

She was delighted by the High Court decision and said: “In a hospital you wouldn’t send a surgeon into the operating theatre without the proper instruments, so how can you send men to the front line who aren’t properly equipped?

“The Snatch vehicle was the wrong vehicle for the situation they were in, and it beggars belief that it wasn’t properly protected.

“People say to me, ‘you’re son, knew what he was doing when he signed up’. And he did. But this is 2008, not the 1914-18 War.

“The problems are still going on. Lads come home, and they shouldn’t go back for at least 12 months, but they’re being sent back after six - and they’re just not ready for it.

“We hear stories that the lads aren’t getting enough to eat, then suddenly there they are on telly eating gourmet meals. Or that there boots are melting in the heat, and suddenly there are pictures of them in smart new boots. We know it’s all propaganda.”

Should soldiers in a war zone have the right to sue the army? Leave a comment on the Message Board.


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